Monday the 15th of June
I was disappointed we so quickly had to leave the city we had only just been acquainted with, but it was time to move on to our next destination. The air was cold as we left the hotel and loaded our belongings into the Contiki Coach. Our first stop was in Fontainebleau! This was the place where Napoleon Bonaparte had made many political decisions and signed his abdication. Primped green lawns formed a carpet leading from the tall gold-tipped gate to the impressive castle with its high arched entrance and beautiful fountains. The expanse of the property featured a large courtyard decorated with dome-shaped bushes and cobblestone pathways through the grass. Circling staircases lead into the castle and around to the lake behind on which white swans and little boats bobbed in the still water. We had just enough time to visit a patisserie before we boarded the bus once again – I purchased some mini pastries to last me the ride.
Vineyard after vineyard after vineyard passed by as we went further into the Beaujolais Wine Region. When we arrived at the private french chateau we were ushered into an operating wine cottage in which we were to enjoy a wine tasting session. The pungent smell overwhelmed our senses from the moment we entered the dark room where six wooden barrels operated as fermentation chambers in week long intervals to create the mild flavoured red we were allowed to taste. As there is only a certain short period of time in which the grapes can be collected, volunteers help picking the produce which then goes into rapid production through the process of crushing and storing. We entered a retired wine barrel; it was filled with a thick rock residue that was a byproduct of the yeasting. I enjoyed my glass of wine so much I reached for a second.
The wine had gone to our heads. The novelty penis playing cards we had bought in Paris were spread in a ring for our game of kings cup. We had played a lot of drinking games so far and were bound to invent many more over the duration of our trip. To summarise a long misadventure: Mark dived head first straight down into the shallow end of the pool and resurfaced with a large gash dribbling blood down his face. How. Fucking. Stupid. The minute he jumped upwards a cringe spread across the faces of onlookers that progressed into a chorus of gasps when the expected bang sounded of head hitting concrete. He was driven to hospital. Something close to the middle of the night he returned from the hospital having missed the cave party and having gained six stitches. Thank goodness for travel insurance! And a hard head.